A young man falls in love with a 2,000-year-old girl he discovers in a Northern European peat bog. A young woman unwittingly becomes the human host of a Joshua tree, while her boyfriend struggles to understand this startling change in their budding relationship. During a nostalgic visit to a tornado auction, an old man impulsively buys and rears one last tornado as he reviews his life choices. A woman strikes a bargain to breastfeed the devil to protect her unborn son.
These are just a few of the brilliantly inventive premises of Karen Russell’s wonderful new collection of short stories. However, Orange World and Other Stories is so much more than fresh plots. Russell ties these seemingly disparate tales together with a pervading theme of alienation: from the past, from family, from nature. Furthermore, despite their surreal nature, Russell grounds each story in human experience, both poignant and hilarious in turn. In “Orange World,” a mother is desperate to protect her infant son after the pain of repeated miscarriage. In “Bog Girl: A Romance,” another mother makes the same remarks about her son’s new, albeit dead, girlfriend that mothers around the world have made. Underlying all of this is the exquisite beauty of Russell’s sentences, which will repeatedly surprise readers with their imagery and masterful language.
Having received her MFA from Columbia, Russell has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. Winner of numerous awards and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Russell is already the bestselling author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Without a doubt, Orange World and Other Stories is destined for a similar fate. For lovers of excellent writing, this book should not be missed.